At its meeting on May 4th, the Smithfield School Committee announced the 2020 Smithfield Teacher of the Year. During the presentation of the award, Superintendent Judy Paolucci noted, “this year, every Smithfield teacher went above and beyond to provide distance learning to ensure that students continued to learn, despite social disancing. Rather than thinking about the Teacher of the Year as the ‘best’ Smithfield teacher, we view this award as honoring an individual who exemplifies the qualities we find most important in our educators.”
The honor went to Jenn Pushee, a 2nd grade teacher at McCabe Elementary School with nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom. Certified as a K-8 special education teacher and an elementary teacher, Mrs. Pushee began her career at Winsor Hill School in Johnston in 2001 then taught in Washington, DC at Rudolph Elementary School in grades 1 and 4 from 2002 to 2004 before returning to Rhode Island to take a position at William Winsor Elementary School. In Smithfield, Mrs. Pushee has taught grades 2, 3 and 4 as well as serving as a special educator.
One of the nominations submitted for Jenn Pushee was written by Krista Quattrini who describes her as “happy, engaging, loving, and creative.” Her distance learning lessons include science videos featuring her children and a Google classroom that is organized and easy to navigate. Danielle Boucher writes, “she has ignited passion and wonder in her students,” noting that her son is just as excited about school now as when he was before the pandemic kept teachers and students from being together in the school building. Cathy Pleau, McCabe’s principal, describes Jenn Pushee as “a consummate team player who embraces the expertise of colleagues and consistently holds herself accountable for pursuing all avenues of opportunity for each and every child.”
Over 30 nominations were received from parents and colleagues. The school district will be reaching out to each nominated educator to commend them for their impact on students and their families. In addition, every Smithfield educator is celebrated throughout Teacher Appreciation week, which is nationally acknowledged during the first full week of May.